Letters to the Editor

West St. guards

To The Editor:

Quietly Sheldon Silver is proposing what I believe could be a transforming idea with regards to pedestrian safety. The hiring of pedestrian guards on West St. will reduce injuries and save lives.

All of the parents of I.S. /P.S. 89 will tell you that the crossing guards placed by Tully Construction during the renovation of West St. were effective and fantastic. These guards held cars away from children and others. They took over the crosswalks and stood strong helping residents. The parents came to greet these people each day with a big smile. Now with construction complete there is no one there and it is dangerous.

As far as I understand, crossing guards are only stationed when there is roadwork construction. The intersections Speaker Silver is proposing to place guards are not construction sites, but really dangerous intersections.

I for one think this is a great citywide idea. The Dept. of Transportation installs people to take over traffic signals and move cars faster. The D.O.T. agents do not assist pedestrians and in fact they speed cars through intersections without the pedestrian knowing they have taken over the signal system. Crossing guards would reduce pedestrian accidents and, as a byproduct, increase traffic flow.

Finally technical solutions for pedestrian safety: countdowns, Barnes’ dances, speeding enforcement and expensive bridges are all useful and should be implemented. But this proposal is the best: Let’s get crossing guards out there and expand this idea statewide. What could be better than creating useful jobs that save lives?

Bob Townley

Member of West Street Safety Task Force and Community Board 1

St. Vincent’s

 To The Editor:

Re “St. Vincent’s still on life support, as takeover is off” (news article, Feb. 12 18):

The current crisis surrounding the future of St. Vincent’s Hospital has been characterized by conflict and controversy over a set of complex and difficult issues: urban development versus historic preservation; for-profit medicine versus nonprofit, faith-based healthcare; and the myriad issues surrounding healthcare reform that currently occupy much of our national debate. Certainly, there are also allegations of mismanagement on the part of many parties. These issues touch on controversies that range from arguments on the street corners of the Village to debates in Albany and Washington.

The people of the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields who serve as volunteers at St. Vincent’s see this issue from a somewhat more intimate, human perspective. Volunteers from St. Luke’s began visiting the bedsides of people with H.I.V./AIDS at St. Vincent’s in the earliest years of the epidemic, offering tea, snacks and companionship to patients, nurses and caregivers. When patients with H.I.V./AIDS were segregated in isolated units, our volunteers were there with them. When H.I.V. patients were integrated into the general population and treatments improved, our volunteers followed suit and our work at St. Vincent’s became “An AIDS Ministry for All People.”

Those who are engaged in the work of building the just, ethical and compassionate society some still dare to refer to as God’s kingdom are saddened and discouraged whenever an institution like St. Vincent’s, founded here by the Sisters of Charity in 1849, runs into hard times. Maintaining a fiscally healthy, faith-based institution in Manhattan becomes more difficult with each passing year, and meeting the skyrocketing costs of simply existing in this, the most expensive real estate in the country, requires such organizations to be endlessly resourceful and creative. For-profit enterprises, even in difficult times like these, seem able to crowd out charitable organizations whose mission must take priority over profits. Occasionally, these pressures mean we are forced to capitalize our only fungible asset — real estate — to meet these demands, running the risk of alienating neighbors in the process.

Crafting solutions that balance these interests is the hard work ahead for policymakers and community activists, regardless of the ultimate fate of St. Vincent’s. It is absolutely clear that Lower Manhattan needs a hospital like St. Vincent’s. For it is the people who rely on St. Vincent’s for their healthcare — the indigent as well as the affluent, the chronically ill and the critically injured — who are at the center of this storm. Perhaps to a mortal fault, St. Vincent’s has remained true to its mission to offer compassionate care for all people. Let us pray that New York City can find room for St. Vincent’s in its moment of need; St. Vincent’s has certainly always found room for New Yorkers.

Rev. Caroline M. Stacey

Rector, Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields

To The Editor:

Re “St. Vincent’s still on life support, as takeover is off” (news article, Feb. 12 -18):

I retired five years ago. I was a registered nurse, and then a nurse practitioner at St. Vincent’s Hospital for 30 years. I went to the St. Vincent’s Hospital Nursing School. It was a wonderful hospital. The physicians working there gave of their time and money to support the hospital in any way they could. The nursing staff was exceptional, and constantly gave of themselves. They were very proud of their reputation for giving excellent care. 

About 10 years ago, everything changed. The hospital board voted to take on four failing hospitals in the outer boroughs (Queens and Brooklyn). These hospitals required significant financial support which eventually brought St. Vincent’s Hospital down. I have not heard this mentioned, but this is the primary cause of the bankruptcy that we now see.

Within this 10-year time period, services began to be downsized, including staff. We went through several C.E.O.’s collecting salaries not in line with a hospital in trouble, but more for a thriving business on Wall St. The physicians heading departments had their salaries cut in half at Christmas. That same Christmas, the executive staff collected their usual salaries plus bonuses.   

This hospital did not suddenly go bankrupt. It had a lot of help.  

Sheila Mahon Ruvolo

“Lottery at P.S. 234 as new zone comes up short” (news article, posted Feb. 12):

The DOE was so far off it would be laughable if we weren’t talking about the well-being of children here. But who this oddball who says it’s not about zoning? That’s exactly what this is about. For this year we look to have enough downtown seats for our kindergartners, but since the zoning lines were so poorly drawn some Tribeca children face a lottery, and, I understand, the prospect of attending a school that is the furthest from them. Maybe we should all have pre-registered centrally and then drawn the zoning lines. The fact that we also need still more elementary schools is a different, and at least as important, issue.


“What would Al Smith do? St. Pat & James schools to close” (news article, posted Feb. 11):

All I want to know is who has the right to decide about the future of our children. Our children believe strongly in their religion, they are respectful and any ethnic group is welcome at St. James. We chose St. James because we know that our children are safe and well protected. As a single mother I trust the faculty at St. James with my child…. It is a shame that our Catholic leaders are simply irresponsible for the future of tomorrow. My child, and I believe I speak for all, is one delicate, intelligent little sweet human being that is all scared of losing the only school she knows since the age of 3. Now going on 10, my child is terrified of changes, losing her teachers, Mrs. Rivera, and all of the other figures that have shown her over the years well. Shame on you to scare such fragile hearts. Preach what you supposedly teach and don’t forget that our children’s future depends on you. Thank you. Special thanks to Mrs. Alice Cancel, John Quinn, the office of Assembly Sheldon Silver, the City Council and other members of the political parties for their outstanding concerns. And may God be also with you.

Glorietta Ramirez

Letters policy

Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to news@DowntownExpress.com or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.